The proliferation of MP3 players has led to devices of all shape, size and alternative functions. There are watches, PDA’s, cell phones, key chains, and countless other gadgets that have the ability to play music so that we can set our everyday lives to a soundtrack. One such example is the USB Sunglasses MP3 Player from Brando. That’s right, digital audio eyewear that integrates an MP3 player and earphones into the frames, eliminating wires that dangle and can tangle into a mess. Of course, the primary function of the sunglasses is to protect your eyes from the sun, but let’s focus on how well they serve as a MP3 player.
Let’s get the specifics of the device out of the way.
Support MP3, WMA and WAV
Can be used for files backup
Three-way adjustable earphone
Continuous Playing Time: min. 6 hours
Recharging Time: 3 hours
Built-in Lithium Ion Polymer: 3.7v, 150mAh
Max. input power rate: 5VDC, 150mA
Voice output power: 55mW
Earphone output power: 5mW
Voice output frequency: 20Hz-20Khz
Normally works voltage: 30-35mA
Signal-to-noise ratio: 87.2dB
Extended length of earphone fixed lever: 13mm
Rotary degree of earphone fixed lever: 270 degree
Rotary degree of earphone: 90 degree
Flip-up lenses with contours that maximize protection against sun, wind and side impact
Blocks UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light
Charge battery by using USB cable, Car charger or AC adaptor
USB Sunglasses MP3 Player
USB Car Charger
The sunglasses come in a box that is fairly nice and could be kept for storage or to serve as a transport case. The box feels sturdy and it features a dual-magnetic flap that keeps it closed when shut and uses open-cell foam to safely compartmentalize the contents. It might be a bit bulky (8″x 8″x 2″) for frequent travel use but I like the fact you can easily scan the compartments to identify if something is missing.
Speaking of missing, you will want to keep a close eye on the USB cable. The USB cable is required for all three methods of charging the device; 1) directly from the PC, 2) through an AC power outlet or 3) via a car power outlet. The USB cable has the standard USB interface for PC connection but it uses a 2.5mm mini-plug to link to the sunglasses, making it an item you will definitely not want to misplace. The AC adaptor and car charger with USB interfaces are nice extras, especially if you have other gadgets that utilize USB connections for recharging batteries.
Besides charging, the USB cable is utilized to upload music to the sunglasses. Very simple and straight-forward process, just plug in and drag and drop music files from your PC onto the sunglasses. The sunglasses will appear on your computer as a “Removable Disk”. Of course, if you wanted to you could also drop non-music files onto the device and use them as a transport media for electronic files without affecting your music play lists. I put a Microsoft PowerPoint file on the sunglasses with my music files and they were fine, transitioning to the next song without any problem. When charging the sunglasses the small LED light located on the inside, closest to the skin, of the right side-panel will be a constant red and when charging is complete it will be a constant green.
Looking at the sunglasses, you instantly notice a masculine feel to the design. I think it has to do with the bulkiness of the side-panels. You will notice that the glasses lack the curved-ends that are commonly found on glasses to wrap the ears. The glasses are designed to be held in place by tension, so naturally they are a little bit tight on the side of your head. If you are like me, and you have a bigger then average-size melon (head), you might find the sunglasses to be uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
The lenses can be flipped up, if you want to continue listening to the music but do not need the protection of the dark sunglass lenses. Although, in my opinion, I think you look a little funny with the lenses flipped up.
Both side-panels contain earbuds earphones that are adjustable three-ways. They are on telescoping piston-like levers that allow you to adjust the location of the earbuds forwards or backwards, in relation to the lenses, depending on the location of your ears. The levers can extend to a maximum of 0.5 in. (13mm).
The telescoping levers can also swivel right to left, in relation to the lenses, 270 degrees. This is nice if you are one of those people who do not like to put things in your ears. Simply rotate the earphone away from your ear a little and turn the volume up.
Lastly, the earbuds themselves have the ability to pivot forwards or backwards, in relation to the lenses, up to 90 degrees. Again, another feature that allows you to adjust the player to better fit the specifics of your head.
The top right side-panel is where you will find the three control buttons. The middle button is the play/pause and power button. Holding the button down will turn the player on /off. The LED is a constant green while the player is on and not playing music. Press and release the middle button to start the music and the small LED light will continually flash green to indicate music is playing. When the battery is low, the LED flashes red. Only problem with this is that while wearing the glasses the LED light is essentially on the right side of you head, making it impossible to see.
The front and back buttons are multi-functional, in that if you press and release the buttons, they will change the song selection. If you press and hold the buttons, they will change the volume. The rear button, closest to the ear, is used to turn the volume up and to select the next song forward, while the front button, closest to the eye, is used to turn the volume down and to select the previous song. Maybe it is just me, but this seems backwards. I repeatedly did the opposite and more then once gave my ears a wake-up call by turning the volume up when I intended to turn it down. Not fun.
The buttons feel like a soft rubber material, which did get stuck in the down position a few times. The first time it happened, I pressed the button to select the next song and it continued to play snippets of a song then transition to the next song until I finally took the sunglasses off and realized what I had done.
Song transition is done in a subtle way. When you press the button to change the song, the current song you are listening to does not just stop and proceed to the next, it seems to quickly fade-out. Something I was not use to but I actually learned to like.
Probably wondering how well did the music sound. Well, I am not an expert but I thought the sound quality was pretty good. I did not notice anything while listening to my music that would cause me to say the song quality was degraded by the device. The earphone output power is stated at 5 mW, which does not mean much to me but I can tell you that they can play loud.
The specifications state a minimum of 6 hours continuous play is possible. I tested the battery life by turning the music on and just letting the sunglasses play unattended. I know the battery died somewhere between 6 hours 35 minutes and 7 hours 5 minutes. So, that is pretty impressive.
The sunglasses I received are black but the box shows they are available in what appears to be white, black, blue and gray so you can choose the color that you like best. You can also pick the flash memory size of 128MB, 256MB, 512MB or 1GB. The sunglasses in this review were 1GB. The music I loaded into the device average about 6MB/song, which by my calculations would mean the device, could hold around 150 music files.
You might notice the glasses are almost identical to the Oakley “Thump” sunglasses, except they lack the Oakley trademark “O” from the temple area. Besides the lack of the Oakley brand, other big differences between the sunglasses is that Brando’s version has a maximum of double the storage capacity and cost 70% less. You may have seen the Oakley “Thump” sunglasses from A&E’s popular reality TV show “Dog – The Bounty Hunter”. Yep, they are the ones that Duane “Dog” Chapman often dons while he is hunting the bad guys.
One concern of mine is that the instructions state not to get the device wet, which crushed my initial plan for using them to listen to music while I was running. I, like most people, tend to sweat when I work out and I would be concerned that my perspiration might damage the device. Unlike other MP3 players that fit in a neoprene sleeve or pocket of your shorts, the glasses are resting directly against your skin/hair so the chance of exposure to sweat is fairly certain. So keep that in mind, if that is your intent when purchasing.
Mobility has to be the inspiration behind Brando’s MP3 sunglasses. Integrating the earbuds into the frame eliminates the wires that often get tangled up causing my blood pressure to elevate. This alone makes the sunglasses a nice gadget accessory to add to your collection. I probably would not purchase a pair myself because, again, I would be looking to wear them while running which does not look like a good idea. If you are to trying to keep the tunes flowin’ while blocking those harmful rays and looking cool, or at least trying to look cool, these could be the answer.